Why music theory is important -but not the usual reasons

Discussion in 'Tab & Music Forum' started by stradovarious, Mar 28, 2013.

  1. jwhit007

    jwhit007 Senior Stratmaster

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    +1
    That site is a great resource!
     
  2. davidKOS

    davidKOS happy at home Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I use harmonic minor a lot over Autumn Leaves, the whole idea of a harmonic minor scale is to borrow the leading tone from major into the minor mode to make a V7 chord. So yes it does involve the leading tone from G major.

    Also the D "alt" could easily be a D7b9, which fits G harmonic minor.

    The problem with the so-called "alt" chord in minor as a V7 is that the simplest alt chord is augmented, and a D 7 aug is D F# A# C; the A# is enharmonic to the Bb, the 3rd of the tonic Gm.

    Thus the two cadential chords have 2 notes in common, which makes for less contrast than using the D7b9.

    Using a D7#9 as a V chord in Gm allows for both 7ths, F (E#) and F#, and can also imply a b9 along with the #9.
     
  3. GuitarAJ

    GuitarAJ Most Honored Senior Member

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    I'm taking classes in theory and reading up on it as much as I can...but it can potentially get as complicated as one likes, and when it comes to people analyzing music they refer to all sorts of jargon and babble on about it endlessly...but does all of that go through the minds of musicians as they play ? Like Alan Holdsworth or Guthrie Govan for example who shred very complex melodies...they don't think about the relationship of each note do they in the space of a few seconds ? Is it all muscle memory and aural skills...or not ?

    I heard a saying which goes something like "learn as much theory as you can and then forget about it." :D The prospect of that is terrifying, but I guess it makes sense.
     
  4. StratMike10

    StratMike10 Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

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    How are all the things below different? I have no clue, they all look the same to me.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    Which summarizes my feelings about it: Not knowing music theory is a form of cluelesness... but trying to legitimize cluelesness is a form of ignorance.
     
  5. StratMike10

    StratMike10 Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Now that is very cool...
     
  6. Astro1176

    Astro1176 Senior Stratmaster

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    Music theory is very different from mechanical engineering theory. Music theory was invented AFTER the music was around, and continues to be developed to try to explain WHY something sounds good or worked.

    If you are building a road bridge, you need to know and use the engineering theories and equations precisely, or else there will be death and you will be put in jail. Physics and engineering kinda works that way.

    If you follow some music theory to build your musical bridge precisely, it will sound pleasant, somewhat boring and formulaic. If you get deep enough into music theory, you can sort of make a great bridge - but only because music theory advocates dissonance and surprise, ie playing 'wrong' notes that don't fit the rest of theory.

    But not all wrong notes sound good, if you want to find a good wrong note, you need to use your ear and your heart and your cultural understanding of the other music and genre that your audience knows well.

    In short, you need to listen to a lot of records/CDs. Which the grungers, punkers, folk artists and indie kids do. And they practiced a lot too to be able to play songs that moved and touched people. Its almost like they are artists, not scientists...
     
  7. rousejeremy

    rousejeremy Senior Stratmaster

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    "Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend."- Bruce Lee
     
  8. davidKOS

    davidKOS happy at home Strat-Talk Supporter

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    That's sort of how I play.

    Another version:

    Do you have to know Greek or Latin to be a foreign diplomat?
    No, it's quite enough to have forgotten them.

    This is true - but you can find wrong notes that don't sound good without theory too.

    Also, even though I have a degree in theory, I really am NOT thinking about theory when I compose, I'm hearing something in my head and then using craftsmanlike skills to add to the music as I write.

    Afterwords I could analyze it, but as you say that is after the fact of the composition.
     
  9. davidKOS

    davidKOS happy at home Strat-Talk Supporter

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    And it seems that among musicians only guitar players try to do so. Even most drummers I know have no issue with learning some music theory, even if it was what they learned in high scholl band drum line.

    What did someone say on another thread - that saying theory is not important is only claimed by those that do not know it and is such a guitar player's argument.
     
  10. abracadabra

    abracadabra Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    @StratMike10, that was very funny. :D

    @davidKOS, thanks very much. I will try experimenting with Harmonic Minor tomorrow. looking forward to it. :)

    one question to clarify though: we're only talking about using G harmonic minor over the V chord right? you're not suggesting it would work over Gm7? or maybe it will (I'll try it tomorrow) but can't see how the nat 7th will live with the b7th on that one. I will see how it sounds. :)
     
  11. StratMike10

    StratMike10 Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

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    That reminds me a couple years ago I saw a video with Bill Brufford working though an outlandishly complex drumline, then stop, grab a pencil, adjust something the score, pick up where he left and go for a few seconds, then stop and write something more, and so on. I remember watching that fluidity in huge admiration, and of course, under the realization that for what he was doing there could be no other way.

    On the same token, I'll throw out there one of our favorite (yet another guitarist,) Howe, to conclude that only a freak of nature would be able to accompish what he did without active use of theory.
     
  12. stradovarious

    stradovarious Senior Stratmaster

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    ^

    This is my point and it expresses the entire impetus for me in starting this thread.

    It explains why I know more theory in my head than say, SRV did, and why he was still a billion times the musician that I will ever be.

    My point was that he DID know his theory.

    Intuitively.

    That does not give all of us license to blow off learning theory though.

    Not too many people have the talent of an SRV...so doing whatever we can to better our skills is probably a good idea.

    Me, I am doing it all bassackwards.

    I already knew my theory...NOW I decide, in 2009, to go into the woodshed, which is where most of you guys have been all this time, and many now are deciding to maybe come out for a bit to learn some theory;).

    I stand by this, however:

    You can be a great player and even improvisor without knowing theory in your head, but in that case, you would have to know it in your heart.

    Lots of people call that "being good at playing by ear" I think.

    I have also heard people say "I know what's right but I can't explain it".

    That's fine, whatever works.

    StratMike10, I worked out the math example you posted. The answer is:

    The square root of 192.67 to the 11th power divided by E=MC2 minus 2.5 plus 17.9432 Duh. Did you drop out of fifth grade or something

    The other thing with the Asian script is a a transcript of a highly graphic overseas phone sex call and it is disgusting, posting this sort of thing is forbidden on S-T and you should know better.

    Learn how to do math and learn how to read, man. Geez can't you people do anything without me
     
  13. inkedintville

    inkedintville Senior Stratmaster

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    When I started taking lessons again after nearly twenty years to learn theory I found out that I already knew theory just not the names fur it.
     
  14. stradovarious

    stradovarious Senior Stratmaster

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    There you go. Some people need names and stuff. I do. I have to know the scientific stuff or I feel like I don't know what I already know. For some people it must be a self confidence thing. Really. there is example after example.

    But some don't know the names fur it nor the concepts or the intuitive part, that was me actually, when I was thirteen, so I started taking theory classes at the local music conservatory by age fourteen.

    I'd say it made all the difference, but then again I didn't become SRV either now, did I...

    Then again I wasn't trying to do that back then, I just wanted to quit violin and learn classical guitar. I did the second thing, but I do still fool around on violin sometimes.:)
     
  15. pauln

    pauln Senior Stratmaster

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    To one who plays totally by ear, that is a strange way to say it. It is not "in your heart", it is in the way you hear music... there should be no confusion about this. People don't call it "playing by ear" as a euphemism for something else - it IS by ear. It is directly and purely by the way it sounds. It is from the phenomenological substance of the sound itself as you hear it. It is knowing what something is when you hear it, knowing in advance what something will sound like before it is played, and being able to play what you want something to sound like.

    It has its own internal abstract representations that don't use theory concepts of named things (notes, scales, chords, etc) to organize and assemble music, it does not use counting to keep time, and it does not come from "learning to play" but from "playing to learn".

    Part of it has to do with allowing direct perception to be experienced without allowing the "things we know" getting in the way. This idea is at the center of all art.

    If you have ever used a light and film camera, you will have become aware of things that exist in reality that your eyes "correct" for you. Photos of building typically need to be made with a pair of lenses with one displaced above the other in order not to get grotesque distortions of what "we know" is a rectangular building.

    The ancient Greek temples were designed and built with distortions to the straight rectangular ideal so as to "look right" when seeing them. A photograph of these buildings includes that distortion so that the camera, and your eye, DOES NOT have to make the correction - and the result is the perception of beauty.

    Likewise in painting, there is an irresistible urge to compose the painting based on what we think must be the way the thing is and therefore how it must look rather than trusting the direct light and "uncorrected" perception of it. Painter that succeed in seeing the uncorrected composition are described as "painting the light", similar to musicians "playing by ear".
     
  16. davidKOS

    davidKOS happy at home Strat-Talk Supporter

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  17. GuitarGeorge

    GuitarGeorge Strat-Talker

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    Many semesters. Ear training, sight singing, piano training for non-pianists...

    In fact, they even make you take dictation. In several voices. They'll play a choral piece for you and you have to write it down. Requires a great ear, and no small understanding of theory. The two go together for optimal results, as far as I'm concerned. Why limit yourself?
     
  18. screamineagle

    screamineagle Senior Stratmaster

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    Ok so this is where we are at now. Limitations must be set in developing as an improvisor. That means the information is immediatly channeled constantly. You could spend every hour of every day developing improv technique so if improv is my musical path, the act of transcribing from the mind to an explanation simultaniously would not only be obsolete in an improv setting but could be a major issue. Improvising is a real thing!
    Clear Audience - Taking Time - YouTube
    I can hum the happy birthday song because i know it. Transcribing that melody to guitar in ptch, in any position, desired voicing right on the fly immediatly is exactly the mentality improvisors set. This allows them to create beautiful and natural communication that could never be efficiently pre determined. Every note played is being channelled right there at that moment and the result is a true gift to an audience.

    Here is a performance from the best improv i have seen in the Boston area. Each solo illistrates techniques that can not be explained effectively through theory explanations and shows why the notes must channel on the spot. It is neither pre concieved or possibly not even considered replayable as material. But because i am referencing for our educational purposes ill put it up here.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2013
  19. stradovarious

    stradovarious Senior Stratmaster

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    Hmm I thought it was fairly clear that I just say "in your heart" as a figure of speech.

    A high society matron was backstage at a Segovia concert in the 70's and she asked him "Maestro, what is more important in playing the guitar, the head, or the heart?"

    And Segovia looks down his nose at her and replies (playing with her, of course) "the FEENGERS, madame, the FEENGERS."

    LOL!!
     
  20. stradovarious

    stradovarious Senior Stratmaster

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    Double post